A WOMAN sacked from her job of 16 years for exchanging "sexually explicit" emails with her lesbian partner has won her claim for unfair dismissal.
A tribunal awarded Helen Brearley, 41, who now lives in Holmfirth, £26,245 compensation.
Ms Brearley, a designer, was axed by shopfitting company Timber Tailors, of Nottingham, last March after bosses read an "excessive" number of emails between her and her partner, Theresa Millward, 27.
At an employment tribunal in Nottingham, Ms Brearley said she had been unfairly dismissed and was battling for £32,000 in lost earnings.
She said that the emails had helped her through the day as she struggled to cope with personal and work- related stress.
She was sacked for gross misconduct after bosses spent more than three months monitoring her emails and her use of her mobile phone and the internet.
A set of emails read out by the company as evidence included one from Miss Millward that said: "I'm surprised that got through our mail sweep", to which Ms Brearley replied: "I can make them even more dirty if you like."
Ms Brearley, who worked for the firm for 16 years, said personal difficulties in the 18-month period leading up to her dismissal had left her on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
The company's commercial manager, Chris Samples, who sacked Ms Brearley at a disciplinary hearing, said her commitment to the company had started to decline.
He also referred to 300 emails sent by Ms Brearley. He highlighted 36 as being sexually explicit and containing profane language.
He said company policy allowed for a "reasonable amount" of personal use of emails. But Ms Brearley had not kept to the firm's "acceptable use" rules.
Tribunal chairman Stephen Keevash said Ms Brearley had not been given any prior warning.
If she had, she could have stopped her behaviour.
The company is to appeal.